We have always talked about the challenges that translators face in terms of language, grammar, composition, cultural sensitivities, and so on. However, have you ever considered any adjustments the technical team has to make if a website has to be translated? There are a few basic but important rules that the technical team has to follow if the website has to be localized and made available in a range of different languages. Here are some technical tips for translating websites.
It goes without saying that encoding is one of the basic levels of security a web developer incorporates in his or her website. However, there are different encoding standards and formats that can be followed. But if the website has to be translated and served in a number of different languages, the best encoding format that can be used is Unicode. There are more than 110,000 characters in the Unicode format and no language has so many characters. Therefore, Unicode can be used for all languages without any encoding issues.
If you want to localize your website, it is better to use style sheets rather than using the tag for changing the font of the content. The issue here is that not all computers will have the font set that your computer will have. So, if you use the tag, the formatting might not happen as you intended and the text will be displayed as plaintext. On the other hand, styles in style sheets do not require the font to be present in the computer of the user. In case there is any variation in the font size or formatting as well, the style sheets will automatically readjust.
XML or XHTML files are ideal for coding a website if it has to be translated into different languages. XML documents support a number of language fonts and are supported by a number of online translation softwares also. As a result, the time taken to convert XML files into different languages is much shorter. Also, translators can work with the actual code of the web page, which will further simplify their task.
It is not that graphics cannot be translated into different languages. It is just that the effort required to convert graphical content in one language to another is very high. There are a number of processes involved in creating animated graphical content and it is just not a question of running it through a translator. The whole process has to be repeated from the start. To avoid this, try to use text instead of graphics. With a little bit of creativity, you can create effective content even without the usage of graphics.
Take the example of a page converted into Arabic from English. English is read from left to right while Arabic is read from right to left. As a result, if the menu bar of the English site is on the left hand side, the menu bar for the Arabic version should be on the right hand side. So, ensure that the navigation of the site is designed in such a way that it can be translated independently.